Providing a supportive community for LGBTQ
January 25, 2017
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After a semester-long period of deactivation, the Gay Straight Alliance club has returned to the Diamond Bar High School campus with plans to be more inclusive and active than before.
The club officially returned in September 2015, after being shut down the previous semester. Now, about nine GSA members and officers meet every Tuesday in adviser Tony Tietz’s room during lunch, discussing a variety of topics such as gender identity, the concept of gender and sex, differences between bisexuality and pan-sexuality and other topics concerning the LGBTQ+ community.
“I wanted to restart because Diamond Bar should have a forum for people who want to talk about issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community. I think it’s important to have a place for somebody to talk and let it out, and not be afraid of what people will say,” co-president Hunter Engustrum said.
He and other club members have also expressed that they wanted the club to be more inclusive than it was in the previous years.
“GSA in the past has been very insular and almost transphobic at times, focusing a lot more on the LG in LGBT,” other co-president Jay Zhang said.
Moreover, both presidents have stressed the idea of a “safe environment” with no judgment.
“I want a safe space to talk about issues that affected [people like me]. As a queer + trans person of color on a campus, people aren’t always accepting of these things. Even if it’s a small club, the existence of a club like this is a very positive thing for marginalized people, to at least know that they aren’t alone,” Zhang said.
Furthermore, bullying and discrimination has also been a concern for members and officers of the club. Zhang described the DBHS environment as not “toxic” but definitely not “welcoming.”
He hopes that the club will provide a “sense of belonging” to people who feel alienated or marginalized.
Both Engustrum and Zhang have associated that alienation with the rise of Donald Trump and his eventual rise to victory.
While the President-elect hasn’t openly said that he would “overturn” the Supreme Court rule of same sex marriage, he has said that he was in favor of “traditional marriage” when asked about the topic, and the controversy has been an ongoing discussion in the club meetings.
“Obviously, as a small high school club in a relatively quiet town, we aren’t looking to start protests or incite serious disruptions. But, we can provide a place for people who feel unsafe to talk about these things in a supportive environment,” Zhang said.